With the annual NAMM show looming, we’re in a time when some companies hold off til the show starts to announce their latest and greatest; some put out pre-show teasers to get buzz going; and some skip NAMM entirely to try to get more shine with their news one the NAMM afterglow has worn off.
A few years ago, a new and rather unusual name hit the NAMM show floor: Monoprice. The retailer had been the go-to e-commerce site for cables and some other electronics/computer accessories for years, but it was expanding its scope to start to include microphones, guitars, instrument and mic stands, DJ gear, mixers and other musical products. Many of those items shown have seen tricked into the Monoprice store, while others have come to light, such as cymbals and drum hardware.
We received no press release from Monoprice yet about NAMM, but the company will be an exhibitor. And this week while searching for a decent powered USB hub, I stumbled across Monoprice’s latest musical gear: budget MIDI keyboard controllers. There are two available so far, and their low-frills aesthetic stretches all the way to their product names, which are basically their store product numbers. The 25-key 606304 MIDI keyboard costs $49, and the 49-key 606607 controller costs $69.
Both of them have velocity-sensitive keys and both USB and 5-pin MIDI connections. They work as driverless MIDI controllers on PC and Mac computers and have four control knobs with two banks, a master fader and pitch bend & mod wheels. Their keys will also perform additional functions and/or data entry when paired with the Edit button.
My experience with Monoprice’s Pro Audio Series is limited to using one of its budget audio mixers for my practice space. The mixer has a good set of features for it’s price ($81.48), but it has a fragile construction that would not be my first choice for taking to gigs. Time will tell if these MIDI keyboards follow suit.